At school, it was pretty much the same: there was a baseball field, swings and monkey bars, and a large paved area where we played tag and red rover, skipped rope, and engaged in all the usual school yard games. But the school was also surrounded by woods and we spent a lot of time playing in it, knowing how far we could go and still hear the bell when it rang. There were two outside "duties" who would circle around the school, keeping an eye on things and picking up kids who got hurt, but I don't remember them ever trying to interfere or stop us from doing anything. We were expected to be mature enough not to do anything completely stupid.
The school went up to grade six, and everyone looked forward to reaching that level, because grade sixers got privileges that the younger children didn't have. One of these was that, at the beginning of December, the two grade six classes would be split up into groups of three or four, and each group given a hatchet and sent out into the woods behind the school to cut down a Christmas tree for every classroom. Granted, this was possible because we were in a rural area: most families had a wood stove or fireplace, and most kids by the age of eleven were used to cutting kindling. We were expected to be able to handle the responsibility and we did; in the many years that this tradition was upheld (it isn't any longer) no one ever got hurt, lost, or anything else. Now contrast that with this news article: